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STATE OF CONNECTICUT

LABOR DEPARTMENT

CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF LABOR RELATIONS

TORRINGTON BOARD OF EDUCATION


DECISION NO. 3570

-and-
JANUARY 29, 1998
LOCAL 1579, COUNCIL 4, AFSCME,
AFL-CIO

Case No. MPP-18,084

A P P E A R A N C E S:

Attorney Victor M. Muschell


For the Town

Attorney Jason Cohen


For the Union

DECISION AND DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT

On March 27, 1996, Local 1579, Council 4, AFSCME, AFL-CIO filed a complaint with
the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations (the Labor Board) alleging that the Torrington
Board of Education (the School Board) had engaged in practices prohibited by ' 7-470 of the
Municipal Employee Relations Act (the Act or MERA). Specifically the Union alleged that,
since March 1, 1996, the School Board had prevented the Local President from performing
protected activities.

After the requisite preliminary steps had been taken, the matter came before the Labor
Board for a hearing on June 18 and July 10, 1997. Both parties appeared, were represented and
allowed to present evidence, examine and cross examine witnesses and make argument. Both
parties filed post hearing briefs which were received by the Labor Board on September 23, 1997.
Based on the entire record before the Labor Board we make the following findings of fact and
conclusions of law and we dismiss the complaint.
FINDINGS OF FACT

1. The School Board is an employer within the meaning of the Act.

2. The Union is an employee organization within the meaning of the Act and at all times
material to this proceeding has been the exclusive statutory bargaining agent for a unit of
custodial personnel and other School Board personnel designated in the collective bargaining
agreement between the School Board and the Union.

3. The School Board and the Union are parties to a collective bargaining agreement with the
effective dates of July 1, 1994 through June 30, 1999 covering ACustodian, Maintenance,
Cafeteria, Instructional Assistants, Non-Teaching Registered Nurses and Secretarial Employees
of the Torrington Public School System@. (Ex. 11)

4. Local 1579 is a multi-employer local union with members who are employees of the
School Board as well as the Town and the Torrington Housing Authority. The Union has
separate contracts with the School Board and the Town of Torrington. The collective bargaining
agreements with the Town cover Public Works employees and City Hall employees. For
purposes of collective bargaining, the School Board, the Housing Authority and the Town are
separate employers. (Exs. 3, 4, 9, 10, 11).

5. The Local Union president, Joe Richardson, was hired by the School Board on October 9,
1984. Richardson was elected President of the Local on several occasions for terms of one year
and was President at all times relevant to this matter.

6. In 1986, Richardson was reprimanded for attending a School Board meeting without
permission. The discipline was upheld in arbitration.

7. Within the last three or four years, the designation of Local 1303-2 which is comprised of
Public Works employees was changed to Local 1579. The School Board was unaware until the
hearing in the instant matter that Local 1579 also represents Torrington Housing Authority
employees.

8. Prior to February 28, 1996, during his tenure as President of the Union, Richardson was
not required to procure anyone=s permission before he left his job site to attend to Union
business. Richardson was not required to reveal the nature of the Union business to which he
was attending and would merely inform a secretary in the office of the Facilities Director that he
was leaving on Union business. He was paid for such time. Richardson spent time on Union
business for employees of the Town and the Housing Authority as well as School Board
employees.

9. The collective bargaining agreement covering custodians is silent regarding the practice
of excusing, with pay, the Union President for work-related Union business. The contract does

allow second shift officers and stewards of the Union to attend special and regular Union
meetings without loss of pay. (Ex. 11, Section 8.16)

10. On February 28, 1996, School Board Business Manager Sheri Goggin sent the following
memo to Richardson:

It is my understanding that you are attending meetings which do not pertain to your
Board of Education bargaining unit. You are not authorized to attend any such meetings
or hearings. (Ex. 2)

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

1. The Act contemplates that a school board, a town and a housing authority may each
constitute a separate employer for purposes of collective bargaining.

2. Employee leave for union business is a mandatory subject of bargaining if the business is
related to that employee=s employment relationship with his employer.

3. Employee leave for union business is a permissive subject of bargaining if the business is
not related to that employee=s employment relationship with his employer.

4. An individual=s activities on behalf of workers employed by another employer are not


protected under the Act.

5. The School Board did not violate ' 7-470(a)(1)or (6) when it unilaterally prohibited the
Local 1579 President from attending meetings or hearings for non-School Board employees of
Local 1579.

DISCUSSION

This case presents the question of whether an employer may interfere with a union
officer=s union activities if those activities are not connected to the officer=s own employment
relationship. The Union asserts that the School Board cannot interfere with such activity
because it is protected and constitutes a mandatory subject of bargaining. The School Board
contends that it is only obligated to bargain about the time spent on Union activities for School
Board employees and that it may unilaterally discontinue the Union officer=s right to attend
meetings on behalf of employees of other employers. We agree with the School Board.

In BASF Wyandotte Corp. v. Oil and Chemical Workers, 274 NLRB No. 147 (1985) the
National Labor Relations Board clearly established that the privileges and practices of union
representatives in servicing members of a bargaining unit cannot be unilaterally changed because
they constitute mandatory subjects of bargaining. See also Local 426 v. Bechtel Power Corp.,
634 F2d 258, 106 LRRM 2385 (6th Cir. 1981). This Board has similarly found. Norwalk Board

of Education, Dec. No. 3442 (1996).

The case before the Labor Board, however, is unlike the situation in BASF Wyandotte,
supra. In Wyandotte the issue involved practices engaged in by a union representative on behalf
of employees of a single employer. Here, the local Union with the designation A1579" represents
four different bargaining units involving three different employers. It is clear that the Act
recognizes that the School Board, the Town and the Housing Authority all may constitute
individual employers for the purposes of collective bargaining (' 7-467(1)). In this case, the
parties have certainly regarded the three employing entities as separate employers for collective
bargaining purposes. Thus, this case presents a situation in which the Union President (an
employee of the School Board) seeks to use his work time on behalf of Local 1579 members
who are not employees of the School Board; a very different situation than in Wyandotte.

As cited by the School Board in its brief to this Board, Office and Professional
Employees Union v. NLRB, 981 F2d 76, 142 LRRM 2064 (1992) is more closely related to the
instant case than is Wyandotte, supra. In Office and Professional Employees, an employee of
an international union charged his employer (the union) with unlawful restraint and coercion and
discriminatory discharge pursuant to '' 8(a)(1) & (3) of the National Labor Relations Act1,
when it fired him for his participation in a local affiliate=s election. The U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit found that the individual=s activities were not protected because they were
not related to his employment relationship with the International Union. In so deciding, the
Court stated:

...the Board may not broaden Section 7 to protect activities which have no bearing on the
employment relationship. The entire Act revolves around the protection of workers=
efforts to better their working conditions through collective action. ...the Act does not
protect any Aunion activity@ engaged in by an employee if it is unrelated to the terms and
conditions of employment.

Office and Professional Employees, 142 LRRM at 2068.

We believe the above reasoning is fully applicable to the instant case. Here, the Union

1
Section 8(a)(1) provides that it is an unfair labor practice for an employer to Ainterfere
with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights@ guaranteed in ' 7 of the NLRA.
Section 8(a)(3) makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer Aby discrimination in regard to
hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or
discourage membership in any labor organization@.

activities of Richardson on behalf of different bargaining units involving employees of the Town
and the Housing Authority do not have a bearing on his employment relationship with the
School Board nor are they related to his activities on behalf of his own bargaining unit. The
activities of Richardson on behalf of his own bargaining unit were not changed or eliminated.
The letter from Goggin specifically stated that her instruction did not pertain to Richardson=s
activities on behalf of his own bargaining unit.

The Labor Board finds no facts or argument in this case to support extending the general
protections afforded union activity to those activities which are not related to the union official=s
employment relationship. As such, we find that the topic of a union officer=s right to use work
time to represent unionized employees of another employer is not a mandatory subject of
bargaining. Whether the rights of a union officer are extended to work on behalf of another
employer=s employees is a subject for negotiation only if the parties agree to negotiate the
subject. This is not in contradiction to our prior conclusion that leave for union business
constitutes a mandatory subject of bargaining. As discussed above, the kind of union business in
the instant case is not related to the employment relationship of the official involved and,
therefore, it is not a mandatory subject of bargaining.2 Also, Richardson=s activities on behalf of
the employees of employers other than the School Board is not protected activity.

ORDER

By virtue of the power vested in the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations by the
Municipal Employee Relations Act, it is hereby

ORDERED that the complaint filed herein be, and the same hereby is, DISMISSED.

CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF LABOR RELATIONS

C. Raymond Grebey
C. Raymond Grebey
Acting Chairman

2
In this case, it should also be noted that the parties appear to have already negotiated the
topic of leave for union business. The collective bargaining agreement contains references to
appropriate union leave. Neither of the references to union leave contained in the collective
bargaining agreement include leave for Richardson to attend to Union business on behalf of
employees of the Town or the Housing Authority.

Thomas G. Gutteridge
Thomas G. Gutteridge
Board Member

*Alternate Board Member Richard McCostis who participated in the hearing on this case
resigned from the Labor Board prior to deliberations and decision.

CERTIFICATION

I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing was mailed postage prepaid this 29th day of
January, 1998 to the following:

Attorney Jason Cohen


RRR
Gagne & Associates

1260 Silas Deane Highway

Wethersfield, Connecticut 06109

Attorney Victor M. Muschell

Mushell, Phalen & Simoncelli


RRR
104 Church Street

Torrington, Connecticut 06790

Dr. John Shine

Superintendent of Schools

Torrington Board of Education

355 Migeon Avenue

Torrington, Connecticut 06790

Nick D'Andrea

Council 4, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

444 East Main Street

New Britain, Connecticut 06051

Attorney Susan Creamer

Council 4, AFSCME, AFL-CIO

444 East Main Street

New Brtain, Connecticut 06051

________________________________________

Katherine C. Foley, Acting Agent

CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF LABOR RELATIONS